José Andrés steps down as CEO of his restaurant group

More than 30 years after José Andrés moved to Washington to run the kitchen at Jaleo, where he helped introduce diners to Spanish tapas, the celebrated chef and humanitarian has resigned as general manager of the company that now oversees nearly 40 restaurants across the United States. and other countries.

In a statement released Thursday, Andrés said his eponymous company, formerly known as ThinkFoodGroup, had chosen Sam Bakhshandehpour as global managing director. Bakhshandehpour will work with Ron Parker, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Nestor Nova, Chief Financial Officer, to help grow José Andrés Group in domestic and international markets.

“Sam understands the power of restaurants to transport us, for food to be the language of connection, and how we can be part of communities in meaningful ways, everywhere,” Andrés said in the announcement.

Andrés will remain founder and executive chairman of the José Andrés Group, which also oversees the chef’s media company. This company, among other projects, helped produce the six-part series “José Andrés and his family in Spain” on Discovery Plus.

Andrés did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As part of this reshuffle, the group announced the promotion of two chefs: Rick Billings will become culinary director and Carles Tejedor will be creative director. The company’s board will also welcome two directors: Justin Heyman, managing director at investment firm RockCreek, and Carlota Andrés, senior partnerships associate at food tech startup Wonder. Carlota Andrés is also the eldest daughter of the famous chef.

The changes at José Andrés Group come as the company received an influx of capital from RockCreek to help it grow. The announcement did not mention the scale of RockCreek’s investment. EagleBank, the announcement said, is also leading a refinancing of the company’s debt.

“RockCreek is excited to partner with José, Sam and the rest of the JAG team to support this next phase of growth for the company,” Heyman said in the announcement. “JAG is a model of how the food and hospitality industry can both be great business and change the world for the better, and we look forward to working with the company to help it grow.” »

Since arriving in Washington more than three decades ago, Andrés has been the face of a restaurant empire that has expanded far beyond Spanish cuisine. His business includes restaurants such as Zaytinya (offering Turkish, Greek and Lebanese dishes), China Chilcano (Peruvian cuisine, including Chinese and Japanese influences), Oyamel (Mexican) and Minibar, his experimental kitchen which holds two Michelin stars.

But in recent years, Andrés has also invested much of his time in World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian aid organization that took off after serving millions of meals to Americans left adrift in Puerto Rico after the Hurricane Maria. The nonprofit has deployed to countries around the world after all manner of disasters, both natural and man-made. WCK is also active in two war zones, Ukraine and Gaza, not without controversy.

Andrés was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his work with WCK. He was nominated again this year for this award.

Some of Andrés’ peers were not surprised by Thursday’s announcement. Richard Brandenburg, chef and co-owner of The Square in Washington, was Andrés’ kitchen director when the company was called ThinkFoodGroup.

“What he wants to do is probably more World Central Kitchen. That’s where his passion has been for a long time,” Brandenburg told the Post. “It’s great to get to a position in life where you can do exactly what you want to do at any time, whatever your passion.”

Brandenburg in the Square partner Rubén García was director of research and development at ThinkFoodGroup for 16 years, working directly with Andrés.

“As he has said many times, he doesn’t want to feed a few,” García said of Andrés. “He wants to feed as many people as possible.”

And the best way to do that, García said, is through World Central Kitchen.

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Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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